Man believed to have committed brazen church murder in police custody

FALMOUTH, Trelawny — The man believed to have pulled the trigger in Sunday's cold-blooded killing of 51-year-old bank employee Andrea Lowe Garwood as she worshipped at Agape Christian Fellowship Church in this town, surrendered to the Falmouth police yesterday afternoon.

The Jamaica Observer has learnt that the suspect is from Rose Heights in St James.

“The suspect, who we believe pulled the trigger, is now in custody. He was taken in by his attorney a short while ago,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in charge of crime Fitz Bailey said during a virtual press briefing called by the Jamaica Constabulary Force yesterday.

On Sunday, quick police action resulted in three persons of interests being taken into custody for questioning in connection with the gun slaying. The police say they have also seized the vehicle which reportedly transported the shooter.

But one of the three who were held on Sunday has since been released. He was said to be the owner of the getaway car, which had been rented to transport the killer.

The driver of the vehicle and a stepson of Lowe Garwood remained in custody up to last night, a senior cop told the Observer.

The police are reportedly not only in possession of the getaway vehicle, but a cellular phone reportedly left at the scene by the shooter.

Speaking at yesterday's press briefing, Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson stopped just short of revealing that the brazen killing of Lowe Garwood was plotted by a family member.

He was, however, quick to warn individuals to refrain from getting involved in contract killings to settle family disputes as their chances of escaping are very slim.

“My warning and advice in these cases is that, even if you are disposed to do that, the likelihood of you getting away with it is quite low. In all of these cases we have persons in custody, these cases have been solved... there may be one or two people [who] we are still after, but largely you will not get away with it,” the police commissioner said.

He bemoaned the recent escalation of contract killings to settle family disputes.

“There is a certain level of degenerate behaviour that we have seen among our criminal population. We have seen where it becomes a thing where people are willing to kill people for money, and that family members who should be taking care of each other, who should be looking about the interest of other family members, are not doing that, but are instead over property, over wealth, over items actually arranging and premeditating the killing of other family members. We saw that in an earlier case in Trelawny; we saw that in St Mary, where this sort of behaviour is playing out,” General Anderson said.

DCP Bailey concurred with his boss.

“So, if you get involved in contract killing we are going to find you, as the commissioner said. We are going to get you. It may take a while, but we are going to find you,” he warned.

He said that, despite the circulation of other motives for Lowe Garwood's killing, a family dispute is definitely the reason.

“I can confirm that it is a family dispute based on the investigation that we have done; there is no other reason. We know that there are other theories out there, but it is solely a family dispute. And, as the commissioner referenced earlier on, we have had a few of these instances,” DCP Bailey stated.

General Anderson noted that recent measures put in place by the police along the nation's roads to “detect and intercept” contributed to the early breakthrough in Sunday's killing.

“We are getting good intelligence on how people are moving and the routes they are taking. One of the critical parts of why we have advanced the case in the Trelawny shooting so quickly is the responsiveness of some of those measures that we put in place across our roadways,” General Anderson disclosed.

On Sunday about 10:30 am the praise and worship segment of the church service at Agape Christian Fellowship was thrown into pandemonium after the gunman, who had been posing as a worshipper, fired a volley of shots hitting Lowe Garwood.

The police say the attacker reportedly fled from the church amid the bedlam and boarded a waiting motor car which sped away. The injured Lowe Garwood was taken to Falmouth Public General Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The shooter reportedly sat behind the unsuspecting Lowe Garwood during the service after entering the church and sanitising his hands, in keeping with COVID-19 protocols, said to be strictly adhered at the church.

The church's pastor, Junior Rutty, who was overcome with grief, disclosed that some church members were not only traumatised but fearful.

“The members are very distraught and disturbed. Some are wondering if there is anything else. It really affects them deeply. This is trauma!” the clergyman said.

BY HORACE HINES Observer staff reporter

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